It’s Garden Share Collective time again – a chance to catch up with what’s going on in gardens around the world. As those of us in the northern hemisphere are well into rich autumnal colours and harvests to be turned into warming dishes for cold weather, spring is progressing in the southern hemisphere with lots of new growth and all the promise of a bountiful summer.
I’m going to have to cheat a wee bit for November’s Garden Share Collective. We’ve been away over the half term holiday and, as I wasn’t organised enough to get out in the garden with my camera before we went, there aren’t any recent photos to show you. We left in a gloomy half light early on Monday morning and arrived home in the dark tonight… so I haven’t seen my own garden for nearly a week now. And even if I was being less than completely honest, there’s no way I could pass these pictures off as a garden in Yorkshire – the Eiffel Tower would be a dead giveaway. Yes, most of the photos in this post were taken in Paris where we spent the week. Paris – a city of tree-lined boulevards and beautifully maintained parks. We’d missed the best of the summer planting – these borders in the Jardin des Tuileries must have looked stunning just a few weeks ago, filled with cosmos, salvias, dahlias and amaranthus.
But there were still roses blooming in the shelter of the courtyard at the Palais Royal.
And above street level, balconies and roof gardens were planted with everything from trees and shrubs through to more modest pots of geraniums providing splashes of colour in a range of pinks and reds.
There was even a boat on the Seine with a green roof…
Now that we’re back there’s a whole list of garden chores to be getting on with. The leaves here were starting to fall before we went away, and with some wet and windy weather over the past couple of days, I’m fully expecting the grass to be sporting a coat of golden yellow tomorrow morning. Time to pull the rake from the back of the shed, and start filling bags with leaves. With some holes in the bottom of the bags, those wet leaves will rot down nicely to make lovely, crumbly leaf mould to use in compost mixes next year. And once the grass is cleared, it could do with a final cut to tidy it up before winter.
If I’m lucky, there will still be a few apples left on the trees… or at least some windfalls that can be salvaged. Among the fabulous pastries we tried in Paris were chausson aux pommes – light, flaky pastry filled with sweet apple. I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to make pastry that good, but these are definitely something I’d like to try baking at home. After collecting apples, next on the list of garden chores are the chillies. They’re still out in the greenhouse, but could probably do with the extra warmth of the house now. A sunny windowsill might just allow them to ripen the last of the fruit. And who knows, maybe this will be the year I finally manage to overwinter a chilli plant… always worth a try.
When we left at the beginning of the week, there were still flowers in the garden. A little faded, but hanging on in there. I gave up on the sweet peas some weeks ago and pulled up the canes they were growing on to store away for next year. But the salvias, rudbeckias and cosmos were all still producing enough blooms to be worth leaving in place… there was even the odd bumblebee around to make the most of the late nectar. Now is the time to start thinking ahead to next summer, and I’ll be sowing some sweet peas this week. The seeds go into tall pots and spend the winter in the cold frame. This autumn sowing should have germinated before the weather turns too cold, and the hardy little plants will establish well and produce flowers a good few weeks before their spring-sown relatives next year. I make an autumn sowing of broad beans too, for early pods next summer. This year things haven’t gone exactly to plan though – turns out a mouse has taken up residence in the greenhouse and has been snacking on the broad been seeds… I hope it’s not too late to have another go because only a couple of seeds from the original sowing have survived to germinate.
So, much as I would have liked to have stayed longer in Paris, there’s plenty to be getting on with over the next couple of weeks in the garden here at home. And once the outside chores are done, there are long hours to be spent sat by the fire with the new season’s seed catalogues, dreaming of a garden full of herbs, flowers and vegetables next summer. What seasonal chores are on your ‘to do’ list just now?